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"The Red Wheelbarrow", an Homage to William Carlos Williams - Kathie R. Kerler

My inspiration is the poem titled “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams written in 1923. Williams was a physician at a time when much of America was still rural. He was tending to a sick young girl in her home. At one point, he parted the curtains in her bedroom and gazed upon the scene of a wheelbarrow and chickens.

Here's my initial layout.

I included the poem so viewers can appreciate it as the wonderful, spare writing that it is. Four stanzas. The first line of each stanza is three words. The second line of each stanza is one. That’s it. Yet his words perfectly paint a picture.

I worked with white-on-white fabrics for the background and chickens. Details are painted with Inktense pencils in red and orange. The motifs are outlined and detailed in black embroidery thread. My intent was to create a graphic image.

While looking at images of wheelbarrows and chickens I found many artists, both painters and otherwise, had been similarly inspired as I by this poem. Rather than recreate the scene as so many have with a figure peering through curtains and a barnyard scene, I decided to render the components of wheelbarrow, chickens, and rain individually, in a deconstructed manner, much as chefs do today with food presentations. Viewers can then put the image together as they like, imagining what Williams saw.

The finished top prior to quilting.

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